Those Were the Days
by JL Farmer

RIP Steve Jobs 1955 -2011
Thank you sincerely, Steve, you gave us so very much and you will be sorely missed

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs
I have been with the Macintosh since Mac OS 7.5.5, the old 'Performa®', Photoshop 2.5 and Clarisworks 2, back in 1996. I used to follow the work and life of Steve Jobs like a private detective: such was (and still is) his hero status to many Mac users. Steve has enriched the everyday lives of millions of people on this planet through his creative innovations. He should get the American Congressional Medal of Honor. I think he's great. Period. Not forgetting Steve Wozniak, also a genius, and without whom the Macintosh computer would not exist. Together, in a garage, they developed the world's second best invention - electricity being the first (IMHO). Their story is all over the internet, so I won't repeat it here.

At Apple Inc, Cupertino, 1997

I remember well the days of fiddling with 8MB of memory on a Performa 6200 and staying up till 5am, burning both ends of the candle, trying to solve Extensions conflicts. To this day I am a complete insomniac and cannot sleep at night.

Around 1995 came the Macintosh Performas with CD drives and modems and it was thanks mostly to this range of Macs that mainstream Mac consumerism began. Such was the thrill of being able to buy games on CD ROM! They were really popular. Everybody that I knew at the time also had either an Iomega© Zip Drive or a Syquest© drive - after using 1.4Mb clunky floppy disks, these drives were heaven!

I had my eye on the 9500 200Mhz machines, but most of us just could not afford them. A base configuration alone cost £3000 plus VAT. Back to the Performa.

Some settled for the PowerPC 7600, which was a great machine in its time, but the main concern for most of us was how to get hold of the very expensive memory modules. That was one of our biggest headaches. Boy, were they expensive! In April 1996, a 32Mb SIMM module cost £659 plus VAT (total: £774.32)

The internet was coming along nicely and by 1996 people were starting to sign up with an ISP. Compuserve was big back then. I got sick of paying BT over £300 a month in internet telephone bills and getting 56 pages of itemised calls. To say that one was "online" was akin to saying that you were from another planet, and people would try to avoid you (although we're talking Cumbria here, not London.)

Here in the UK, we had the wonderful innovative "MacFormat" magazine to guide us through all the ins and outs of the Mac. Alex Summersby was a wonderful Editor of the magazine and is missed by everyone who knew him for his work at MacFormat. Best Wishes for you, Alex, wherever you are now.

It was around this time in 1996 that I started the
Cumbria MacUserGroup, to get together with other Mac users in Cumbria to share our Mac experiences and to offer technical support to those who sometimes had problems with their Macs. It was from the beginnings of this basic Mac teaching that I went on to develop structured teaching and courses for Mac beginners and then Mac School was born.

I made a trip to the Apple Store in Cupertino, California, which was like taking a personal pilgrimage to the source of all things Macintosh and tantamount to being in seventh heaven. Excuse me, I'm Mac crazy!

I was married and living in California at the time, and after that I used to visit the Apple store in Cupertino about once every two weeks - it was only about 40 minutes drive, "over the hill" on Highway 17, from our home in Santa Cruz. I also sometimes would go to conferences there in Building 3. I vividly remember the "boos" that Bill Gates got from the audience when he came up to present Office for the Mac!

By 1997 I had gone up to Mac OS7.5.5 - an OS that was loved by many Mac users. I remember my desktop used to arrive from bootup in about 15 seconds flat. This was the year of the 20th Anniversary Macintosh (above) which was designed (along with the iMac and many other Macs) by an English guy at Apple, a genius guy called Jonathan Ive (right). A year later in 1998 the new G3's arrived and we had Mac OS8.

It was during the time that I was reviewing software for Adobe and Corel and when Corel 8 came along I had to go up to OS8 and bought a Power Macintosh G3/300Mhz so that I could have more memory than the 64MB in my Performa 6320; and this G3 is still my main Mac today!

Amazing! Of course, it has been vastly upgraded and is fast fast fast. It now has a 60GB partitioned hard drive inside, with 640MB of memory, plus another three internal drives: CD drive, floppy drive, zip drive; a 20 inch monitor, 2 USB cards which enable 4 ports for a digital camera, printer, scanner and a slide scanner, and still has the 2 serial ports for an external modem and another printer, with SCSI for a CD writer. It still has a free PCI port, but I haven't decided yet whether to install a Firewire card or a 128 bit graphics card. I have OS10.2.8 on the main drive (although I had to partition it to less than 8GB on the boot drive to accommodate the G3 hardware architecture) and the other 50GB has OS9.2 with all of my applications on it. I also have an iBook 800.

The beige G3s were followed by the blue G3's and since then things have moved along in leaps and bounds. The blue iMac 233Mhz caused a sensation when it was released in August 1998 for many reasons, one of which was the fact that it had no floppy disk drive.

Apple released the 5 flavours of the iMac and then along came the blue G4's with Mac OS9 and the newer iMacs (one with flowers on it) and these machines once again took the use of a personal computer to higher levels.

The iMac (right) was overhauled to stand on a pod and what used to look like an iMac was then called an eMac (left). These two machines are probably the mainstream consumer market Macs today.

In the fall of 2003 came the Mac G5's, and for the first time the world has got 64 bit processing using Mac OSX. In time, OSX will be the mainstream operating system for the Mac. Love it or hate it, it's slowly getting there. All of the new G5 Macs and G4 laptop machines only boot from OSX (this is November 2003). The problem with all of this is that there are an awful lot of Mac users who have a heavy investment in OS9 application software and who don't want to shell out thousands of ££££s all over again to run them on OSX. There is now also the new OSX Panther operating system that has been released by Apple.

Update: May 2009

The fortunes of Apple were hugely revised in the early 2000's by the success of the iPod - a portable mp3 player and also especially the Apple iTunes Store, from where billions of paid music downloads have been made.

Apple made what was regarded as a radical decision to put Intel processors into all of their Macs, which were first released in February 2006 with the new Mac Mini. This change of processor allowed Apple to run Unix as the underlying OS system on their Macs. So now it's called OS10.6

The old iBook became the MacBook, the Powerbook G4 became the MacBook Pro and the new
MacBook Air, a very thin, light portable, was released in 2008.

The multi-coloured iMacs became white iMacs and then they transformed to aluminum - and what machines they are - I have 2 of them! They are absolutely wonderful machines for the desktop user.

Of course, the high-end machine is the Mac Pro - which has 4 cores per processor and takes up to 32 Gb of memory - imagine that! I have personally never seen one, but they must be blitzingly fast machines!

I have followed the Apple path. I believed in all of it, I was there back then, and stuck with the Mac through everything, never contemplating any alternative, and now we all see the results of the work of Apple: millions of people now have Macs. I still don't know how to use one of those other machines and know that I will never want to. I have never owned one.

I still have my old Mac Colour Classic in England with 8 Mb of memory and 160Mb hard drive inside, although I have not used it for over 10 years. I read that some people have made tropical fish aquarium tanks from them, but I could never do that.

Happily, if not somewhat sadly, the old days have gone and most of us have blitzingly fast Macs that are packed out with everything, but the need for sharing our knowledge of the Mac with beginners is greater than ever, because word processing, digital photography, movies and the internet have now gone mainstream. I believe they call it web.2 :-)

Thank you Apple, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and all of the team in Cupertino, for making us so very happy!

Article written by JL Farmer, November 2003
Cumbria, UK

lupdated May 2009
Agadir, Morocco

and sadly, on the passing of Steve Jobs, October 5th, 2011.

This article ©JL Farmer, 2003 & 2009 and may not to be used or reproduced in any form

All pics of computers on this page are ©Apple Computer Inc, Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California and are used for the express purpose of expounding the times and triumphs of the Macintosh computer.

"Moof" - At the Apple Icon Garden, Apple HQ, Cupertino, California 1997

Like a kid in a candy store - in the Apple Store at HQ,
Cupertino, California, September 1997


This page is ©Copyrighted by JL Farmer and may not be used without prior written permission


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and Apple®, Macintosh®, Clarisworks®, Appleworks®, Performa®
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